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September 1, 2015
May 5, 2021


What is copyright protection?

The UK has a lot of competition in every type of industry. Keeping it in mind, it`s very important to make sure that your company stands out from the copycats and corporate wannabes. But how can you achieve this? The most important thing about brand recognition is content. What are you producing which no one else is? Perhaps you are offering excellent industry insights via company blog, or amazing original graphics and images on the website. Such content draws customers like bees to honey. You have to simultaneously think about how the content which you are creating is protected. After all, what can stop the competitors form copy pasting your content on their website? In this battle of defending your content, the ultimate weapon is copyright protection. But what is copyright protection? And, how it works?

What is copyright protection?

We will cover the basics first. The UK Government says that, copyright is a type of intellectual property protection which automatically applies to the original and creative work from the moment of its creation by a collective or any individual.Unlike trademarks, designs and patents, there is no specific requirement to register or apply for copyright protection. It should also be noted that there is no need of marking original work with copyright symbol in order to protect it. This is because protection in the form of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is already available.Having said that, you may find it worthwhile to register the work, in case you have suspicion that someone may try to use your work or claim to it to be their content. As long as you are able to give irrefutable evidence of you being the lawful owner, infringement claims can be easy to resolve resulting in better protection for you work.Any work which has copyright protection should not be performed, distributed, copied or used by anyone other than the owner. Doing so will have legal repercussions. The protection also makes sure that the works are not adapted or replicated – nor are they put on internet without explicit permission of the creator.

What does copyright protect?

Following different types of works are protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988:

  • Original literary works – these include song lyrics, manuscripts, articles and manuals.
  • Original non-literary works – these include computer software, computer programs, and web content and data bases.
  • Works of Art - like design and architecture, photographs, paintings, diagrams, illustrations, logos, cartography and technical drawings.
  • Music and sound recordings.
  • Dramatic works like dance and plays.
  • Television and film recordings.
  • Cable programs and Broadcasts.
  • Typography of any published literary, musical and dramatic work.

Even if one of your works fit snugly in one of the mentioned categories, it is important to point out that several exemption rules which relate to copyright protection exist.

What are the items exempt from copyright protection?

UK Government issued comprehensive new guidelines which outlined the situations in which it is ok to use someone else`s work. These guidelines were issued in October 2014. According to the lawmakers, the following are usually considered to be exempt from copyright protection:

  • Personal copies with purpose of private use: Modernization of copyright act has resulted in allowing the people to make some private copies of different media which they had bought. Copies may be made for different purposes like keeping a backup or format shifting. This means that consumers have the right to transfer their personal CDs into the mp3 player, and copyright law will not be violated.
  • Quotation: Law provides freedom for people to quote other peoples work. But it has to look reasonable and fair. Also full attribution should be given. Such replication will not break the law.
  • Private Study and Research: It is allowed for individuals to copy films, broadcasts and sound recording for research without getting the permission from holder of copyright.
  • Data-mining and Text: Changes in copyright law have resulted in individuals being enabled to copy items for purpose of analysis on computer. The exemption is only applicable for non-commercial purposes.
  • Caricature, pastiche or parody: A limited and reasonable use of creative work is allowed for entertainment purposes. A good example can be, use of several lines from a song in its parody sketch. It will not violate the copyright law.
  • Training or education: Teachers can use content by displaying or copying, for the purposes of education.
  • Preservation and Archiving: Recently law was changed in order to make it easy for the libraries, museums and archives to preserve collections. They can copy all the creative works which they have in their collection, with the goal of preserving it for future.
  • Accessible formats for disabled individuals: Many changes have been made in order to provide access to disabled individuals. They are allowed making one copy of the copyright works for personal use by a disabled person. It is also allowed for charities to make copies for disabled people.
  • Public administration: It is permitted for the public bodies to share online some third party materials which have copyright protection. The most common item will usually be information which is sent by a business for purposes of maintaining a public register.

You can read the UK Government`s complete briefing on exemptions related to copyright, in order to be sure regarding use of your work under mentioned circumstances.

How long does copyright protection last?

There is a different duration of protection for different types of work. It also depends on the date of creation of work.

  • Artistic works: Artistic, literary, musical and dramatic works enjoy protection of 70 years after death of creator or author.
  • Sound recordings: They are protected for 50 years after creation.
  • Broadcasts: They have a protection of 50 years after the first broadcast.
  • Films: Movies and films have a protection of 70 years after the last death of the author of screenplay, author of dialogue, composer of music made for the film or the principal director.
  • Typographical arrangements: Such content has a protection of 25 years after the initial publication

Is copyright protected worldwide?

Different countries have different types of copyright laws. However, a minimum level of protection exists as a result international conventions like the Berne convention. The owners of intellectual property in any of the countries which are party to Bern Convention enjoy the same protection and rights which are agreed in the convention. The owners also enjoy the protection offered by the laws of the individual countries.

How can I stop people from using my work?

You, yourself are responsible for defending the copyright infringement of your materials. You can take some steps, if you believe that someone is using your work without your permission. First, thing you should do is to check if the person or organization who is using your content has the license to do so, or if they have applied for the license. You can check this on the official license register of the Government. It contains all the creative works which are orphaned, meaning their owners could not be identified. It often happens that people apply for the license, if they want to use a protected work, but they are unable to find the copyright holder.In case there is an application for your work:

  • You can seek to have the application stopped.
  • You can claim to get license fee which was paid.

If the work is not on register, you should contact the individual who is using the content and tell him that the work is your property. You can tell them to stop the use, or provide them with written permission for the use of work. You can take legal action in case they don`t stop using your work despite your disapproval.

Can I license or sell my copyright?

Being owner of the copyright, you are entitled to license the use of your work. You also have the right to sell or transfer the copyright to anyone else. You will be required to register the work with some licensing body before being able to license it to allow someone else using it.The licensing body will be collecting the royalties on your behalf and you will be able to control how the work is used. In case you want to sell or transfer your copyright, you should make a document which will serve as evidence of the transfer or sale.

Can I copyright a company name?

No, unfortunately names cannot be copyright protected. However, you may be able to copyright a design or an artistic logo which has your companies name on it. The ideal way to protect the name of your business is to get it incorporated as a limited company with the Companies House. It will prevent people from registering a company with that name. You may also protect your companies name by getting it registered as trademark.

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